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Hartselle Enquirer

Mile Marker 215.5

By Jacob Hatcher

Community Columnist

My actual memories of the place are few and vague. Mostly I remember waking up in the cool grass to the sound of my brother screaming bloody murder. I remember being disoriented, my vision blurred by the battery acid in my eye.

We’re not exactly sure how the truck and camper came off the road, but in any event, it did.

My next memory is sitting on the shoulder of The Natchez Trace Parkway, my fourteen year old sister and I watching as strangers cut Nana’s door off in order to free her from the truck. I don’t remember where my brother was, but I’m pretty sure the screaming had stopped.

Next I’m in a small Mississippi hospital getting my eyes checked. I was in my aunt’s lap when the nurse passed the doctor a note warning the him not to mention Papa dying, because no one had told me yet. I didn’t have the heart to tell them I already knew. I thought it made them feel good to be protecting me from it. Or maybe I was protecting myself from it.

For twenty-nine years it’s been a myth; it’s my family’s lost city of Atlantis. It has existed somewhere unknown under a sea of protected trees and wildlife. Until this week, when we went to rediscover it.

Foolishly, I thought maybe I would find one of my long lost G.I. Joes with his hand sticking up from the fallen leaves; I thought I would look into the woods and see my black cowboy hat. Maybe I would find a memory that I’d locked away somewhere. Maybe I’d find some closure.

What I found was the tree we hit laying in a pile in the woods and a parade of cars driving by with no idea what had happened in that place. I found that deep inside maybe that eight year old boy still lives, still trying to make sense of it all.

I guess that little boy will always be with me, and I guess he’ll always be sitting on the side of that road staring down that hill, knowing everything hinges on that moment.

 

 

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